An ambitious, paranoid-liberal melodrama set in the near future, Daybreak presents an America overrun by fascism inspired by a nameless, AIDS-like disease. Public policy is to quarantine the infected, which has given rise to semiofficial gangs of vigilante youths who imprison or kill anyone they suspect has the disease. A resistance movement that includes our hero, played by Boyz N the Hood’s Cuba Gooding Jr., tries to help the afflicted escape the clutches of these goons.
In a Romeo and Juliet twist, Gooding falls in love with the sister of one of the fascist leaders; she’s played by Moira Kelly (Chaplin). Adapted and directed by Stephen Tolkin from Alan Bowne’s play, Beirut, Daybreak is something of a mess — part action flick, part romance (Gooding and Kelly are hot together), part apocalyptic fable — but it’s an engrossing mess and features alert acting from Parenthood’s Martha Plimpton as Kelly’s traitorous best friend. B